- Official Language(s)
- Sinhala, Tamil
- 21.9 million
- % of Population Below Poverty
- 8.9% (1.9 million people)
- GDP per CAPITA (PPP US$) (?)
- $6,500 (Canada = $43,100)
- UN's Human Development Index (?)
Why volunteer in Sri Lanka?
Before the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, about 9 million Sri Lankans or 30% of the population were living on less than $15 US per month. In just a few minutes, the tsunami killed more than 40,000 people and changed the lives of thousands more by wiping out their livelihoods. People who had been just getting by were plunged into poverty. In its wake, the tsunami demonstrated how vulnerable poor people are in the face of natural disasters. In the village of Ketakalawatta, Developing World Connections volunteers have helped build 29 homes along with a prayer centre, a shop and a playground. We hope you will add to that by volunteering in Sri Lanka.
Even though the country has largely recovered from the tsunami, it still struggles with economic issues. About 42% of Sri Lanka’s population lives on less than $2 US a day, showing how widespread poverty still is. Adding to the post-tsunami challenges is the fact that 90% of the poor live in rural areas – only 20% of the Sri Lankan population lives in urban communities. Access to education, medical care and social assistance programs is often limited.
In March of 2015, in celebration of our first DWC trip to Sri Lanka in 2005, our volunteers constructed an outdoor stage for Navajeevana, a non-profit organization that provides services for people with disabilities. The stage is used for children’s performances and will be rented out to provide income for the organization. Future projects include supporting a water project to improve the livelihood of 100 families in the Mulana Hungama area (east of Tangalle) by irrigating agricultural land. This involves repairing an existing well, replacing one kilometre of water pipes and fixing a pump hut.
On previous trips, volunteers have worked on the construction of a trades training facility to help ensure locals develop the technical skills they need to secure their economic future. The project includes four buildings that will be used for multiple programs, including small engine repair, slipper making and entrepreneurial training. An additional smaller building will be used as a showroom and office.
Read about our volunteers’ experiences
Find out what it’s really like on a DWC volunteer trip. Check out our Sri Lanka blog which features entries from DWC team leaders and volunteers.
When can I go?
How much does it cost?
Trips may be cancelled if not enough people are registered so please sign up early to avoid disappointment. A $500 deposit is required to hold your spot on the trip; the remaining balance is due 60 days prior to your trip.
We invite people who cannot give the gift of time to donate to Sri Lankan projects and programs through Developing World Connections.
On evenings and weekends, you’ll have a chance to explore Sri Lanka by visiting local temples, the Rewaka turtle conservation project or the Udewallawa elephant reserve. Upon completion of the volunteer experience, we recommend you travel inland to the lush, historical and cultural Sinhalese capital of Kandy to visit the Temple of the Tooth, the National Museum and the Kandyan Devil Dancers. Tour the tea fields and factories at Nuwara Eliya, stand at the river’s edge while the Mahouts scrub their elephants and visit the 1,500 year old Sigiri murals and rock architecture at the rock fortress of Sigiriya rising 600 feet above the jungle.